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What is a Smart City?

July 2018

Smart City’ we have all heard the term, it’s been thrown around rather a lot over the last couple of years. As a lighting manufacturer, we like to keep abreast of industry developments, and it is a constant challenge to keep ahead of a rapidly moving game. We’re often questioned on smart cities, smart street lighting and smart control system technologies, because they are the future, right?

But what does this elusive term ‘Smart City’ really mean?

The crude and simplistic definition would be, a highly, intelligently functioning city. Wikipedia’s definition; " a smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) with Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets ". But in our industry, we are pretty much agreed that there is no unified definition - a Smart City will be different to different people, based on perceptions, experience, geography and expectations. However, the term, as well as the concept, are quickly evolving along with advances in technology and as theory is tested in reality. With UK cities such as Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester leading the way.

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What role does street lighting technology play?

Well obviously, the lighting element, which can be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). This is where the term smart lighting comes into play.

Smart Lighting is energy-efficient LED lighting with light control adjusted to the user’s needs and the applicable regulations. Smart Lighting is an autonomous system that provides the network infrastructure and data to connect with (web-based) management systems


Can our street lights offer more? The answer, we believe, is yes. Lighting can and will play a central role in the development of smart cities. We believe that street lights will provide the backbone of a smart city’s infrastructure. Our lighting networks are fully equipped with electricity – a readymade power supply - which will be needed to fuel the smart networks. They are fixed and currently in place, ready to be exploited for new purposes such as data transmission and other essential fundamentals needed for smart cities to exist.

What does this mean for the future of street lights?

Our product designs have become smarter. Future proofed to leave space for the integration of further hardware and controls. This goes beyond just functional street lighting, we need to consider our decorative ranges and start thinking of our luminaires as more than just light. 

But why do we need our cities to be Smart?

Lack of resources is the simple answer. Have you have noticed that the domestic price of electricity in the UK has almost trebled in the past 10 years? And all predictions imply they will continue to rise. Some of the reasons cited are the depletion of our planet’s natural resources, they are becoming more difficult and expensive to access. This, together with reduced budgets mean that smarter more efficient ways of carrying out cyclical tasks and reducing waste must be found.  

It’s no wonder, when faced with these ever-growing demands to reduce energy consumption and reduce costs, that living in smarter cities where resources are planned and managed more efficiently, seems an attractive proposition.